The New York Public Library’s 92 locations hold over 51 million items. In honor of its upcoming 125th anniversary this May, the NYPL crunched the numbers and revealed the 10 most checked-out books in its history.
[But before we take a look at the list, a little trivia question. At the Bryant Park location, the building is flanked by two rather famous marble lions. Do you know their names? Find the answer at the end of this article.]
Making the list
To find this data, librarians and analysts spent over six months compiling the list. They considered all book formats, including e-books and foreign-language editions.
The top spot goes to The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. Published in 1962, the picture book depicts Peter, an African American boy, who explores his neighborhood after the season’s first snowfall. It’s been checked out 485,583 times. More than half of the books on this list are for children or young readers. In second place is the Dr. Seuss classic The Cat In The Hat, which was loaned out 469,650 times.
In addition to the top 10, the NYPL issued an honorable mention to Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Despite its popularity, it was only added to the library’s collection in 1972 despite being published in 1947, apparently due to the tastes of Anne Carroll Moore, an influential children’s librarian at the time of the book’s publication. As Slate explained, “the library dismissed the book as an unbearably sentimental piece of work” and for years refused to carry it.
The top 10
1. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (485,583 checkouts)
2. The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss (469,650)
3. 1984, by George Orwell (441,770)
4. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (436,016)
5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (422,912)
6. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White (337,948)
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (316,404)
8. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (284,524)
9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling (231,022)
10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (189,550)
Trivia answer: The lions are named Patience and Fortitude.